Police University
By Maxwell Pereira

Years ago in the early 80s and before Delhi was split into the present nine districts, I was responsible for policing north Delhi. Had occasion then to interact with the Vice-Chancellor and other university luminaries conveniently located within my precinct. This opportunity provided my not so very academically inclined brains some intellectual stimulation, also to vent my own ideas for what they were worth. Invariably one of my pet themes then revolved around the utter apathy of our educators towards police sciences. Why can’t universities in India open up fields of study in this crucial area that touches lives of millions everyday, used to be my constant refrain.

Sagar University in Madhya Pradesh was the only one in those days that offered a course of study in criminology – initially started just as a diploma course, later elevated to the degree level. It took decades for any other university to follow suit, which for me merely reflected the lack of vision and imagination both on the part of our administrators and educators. What is worse, steeped as we are in our cussed ways to rule the nation with generalists and not experts in particular fields of activity, at no stage in independent India has it occurred to any one to make proficiency in police sciences a pre-requisite eligibility criteria for recruiting into police services.

“At least encourage students aspiring for doctoral degrees to take up research on policing aspects and police topics” – I used to urge the educators in my own limited way, quoting examples from foreign universities. Later, I witnessed first hand in France and elsewhere how scholars and researchers poured over police archives to study criminal behaviour, crime trends and psychological profiles of areas and peoples affected by crime and criminals, forensic applications, medical jurisprudence and a plethora of practical and supportive policing aspects.

Policing aspects as a subject of study remain relegated in India to mundane day to day crime reporting and ‘so called’ investigative journalism for temporary sensationalism and establishment-bashing to attract public attention and boost circulation – rarely aimed at any serious research to usher in reform or development. The nearest anyone has come to achieving something worthwhile towards this end was around the turn of this century when the Guru Nanak University in Punjab accorded recognition in the form of a ‘degree’ to those passing out of the Police Training College in Phillaur.

Against this background, the recent news about the government mulling over the idea of a National Police University (NPU) comes as a breath of fresh air. At last concerned over the lack of standardised courses on policing and internal security, the union home ministry is to set up the NPU dedicated to teaching policing and related subjects. This is expected to fill the critical training gaps for in-service personnel and for those aspiring to join this service or related fields of activity.

The move is prompted by the realisation that of the 279 universities in the country covering a wide spectrum of disciplines – some dedicated even to exclusive areas of study, there is none that teaches or does research on the police. And yet, the police services employ over 22-lakh personnel in this country. NPU is to be funded totally by the Home Ministry, and the scheme envisages its graduates will get preference for placement in police and para-military forces.

The NPU will offer courses at the graduate, post-graduate and doctoral levels – even something on the pattern akin to what is offered by the National Defence College for those to be groomed to occupy berths in the higher echelons of the services. The 3-year degree course will primarily deal with basic policing for prevention and detection of crime, maintenance of public order, organized crime and terrorism, the fast growing economic offences and cyber crimes, as also VIP security and other aspects. The two-year master’s degree will envisage fields of study in police sciences.

The very idea, and what is envisaged is laudable. Only, its structure and faculty needs to be drawn up along strict academic norms and not necessarily headed by a policeman per se. While it needs to be an umbrella organization for the police training schools and colleges across the country, and the various academies of the likes of the CBI, CRPF, BSF and the IB, it is necessary to guard against government’s tendency to make it yet another police dominated institution like the BPR&D or the NICFS.

What I am afraid of is that like all laudable schemes of the government, this one will also end up with just some more berths for non-performers in the field as is currently the fate at all police training institutions in the country, or for such others who by virtue of their years of service and seniority, be it from the IB or other similar jobs, to be ‘adjusted’ in these posts for picking-up-rank. The fact remains that almost all police officers for varied reasons consider active field postings as a measure of their calibre and success – and so go to any lengths to shun peripheral assignments in the training or research field.

What is needed is to have in the faculty a judicious mix of highly qualified scholars and academicians and the crème de la crème from the experienced lot of policemen with reputation for having excelled for field policing in their respective areas of operational activity. While the government and police departments need to provide the necessary fodder in terms of infrastructure and state of the art facilities to encourage and motivate developmental and research activity, there should be no interference in the research work to suit the times or the political climate. Only then will the National Police University be able to provide alumni worthy of its ideals, and produce policemen the nation can be proud of.

April 10, 2006: 950 words: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com


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